NAB looks for establishment’s help to pursue corruption cases

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: While the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) recently restored corruption cases against public office holders in a landmark ruling, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has also swung into action against corruption references worth billions of rupees.
Sources said that the bigwigs of the premier accountability watchdog have decided to knock the doors of sensitive agencies for pursuing corruption references.
They said the efforts had been initiated to hire officers from the intelligence agencies (IAs) on deputation. With the approval of NAB Chairman Lt Gen (retired) Nazir Ahmad, a written correspondence has also been made with the high ups of the IAs.
Sources further said the officers on deputation in the NAB would start working in days to come and that all vacant seats in the bureau would be filled.
The bureau will have new deputy chairman and the prosecutor general on regular basis.
On September 15, the SC declared null and void amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 laws and restored corruption cases against public office holders, which were abolished under the amended law.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, announced the reserved verdict on PTI chief’s petition challenging the amendments to the law. It was the last day of CJP Bandial in office as he is retiring today.
The bench announced the verdict by 2-1 majority with third member of the bench, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, writing a note of dissent.
The bench declared nine of 10 clauses of the NAB amendments null and void.
The apex court restored all NAB cases and inquiries, including those below Rs500 million. It also struck down the sections pertaining to the definition of unnamed (benami) and assets accumulated beyond means, as well as the section shifting the onus of proving a case onto the prosecution.
The provision to prevent NAB from taking action against government officers has also been declared void.
The apex court ordered the NAB to send all the cases to the courts concerned within seven days.
In June 2022, the PTI chief had moved court against amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance under the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022. CJP Bandial and Justice Ahsan declared the plea maintainable while Justice Shah disagreed.
The PTI chief had submitted that the amendments to the NAB law had been made to benefit the influential people and legitimise corruption.
Justice Shah had during recent hearings urged for a full court to hear the case, citing the frozen Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) law. However, CJP Bandial had opposed it, noting that his retirement was near and the plea had already been pending for a considerable time – since at least July 19, 2022.
Verdict reserved
It may be recalled that the apex court had reserved its verdict on Sept 5. A three-judge special bench, led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, heard the plea.
The bench appeared to be visibly divided over the issue during 53 hearings on the former prime minister’s petition.
Justice Shah consistently questioned the maintainability of the petition, whereas CJP Bandial and Justice Ahsan remained critical of some of the amendments made to the NAB law by the Pakistan Democratic Movement government.
The CJP was expected to announce the ruling in this case before his retirement, and the judgement “could have far-reaching implications on national politics.”
On the other hand, The mega corruption cases against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ex-President Yusuf Raza Gilani, and Asif Ali Zardari reinstated, including the investigation into the acquisition of cars through illicit means in the Toshakhana case.
Following the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict to strike down amendments made to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the accountability bureau has re-opened 80 corruption cases valued at billions of rupees.
According to the details on Thursday, the Toshakhana case is also re-opened against former PM Nawaz Sharif, ex-President Asif Ali Zardari and Yusuf Raza Gilani for allegedly taking vehicles.
The fake bank account case against Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is resumed, meanwhile, the case of rental power reference against Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and LNG case against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is also restored.
The re-opened cases primarily refers to the inclusion of NAB references of assets beyond means against former Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and ex-Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
According to the sources, NAB penned down a letter to the registrar of the accountability court regarding re-open the 80 references.
Following the Supreme Court verdict regarding NAB’s Amendment, these references are now in the process to sent back to the courts for proceedings, meanwhile, in the span of next one or two days, all the cases will be transferred to the Accountability Courts.
It is pertinent to mention here that after the supreme court verdict a special meeting was held in Islamabad where it was decided to revive these references.